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More than 8 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2025. Currently, there are already more than 1,400 types of driverless cars in testing or in production, and California is a major hub of innovation for new driverless car technology.
This means the future of driverless cars is here. And as a result, accidents with self-driving cars are already on the rise. You’ve probably seen some of the most famous cases in the news, like the fatal San Jose Uber accident or the Tesla Model X crash in Mountain View.
And as we get closer to fully autonomous cars, standard vehicles are becoming more and more equipped with advanced car safety systems. While these features are meant to improve safety and assist drivers, many consumers aren't even aware of how they work or worse, assume they can let their guards down and allow themselves to be distracted.
So, what if you were in a driverless vehicle accident? What would you do next? Who’s at fault? How can you hold the right person responsible when a person may not have been even driving the car?
We’d like to clear up the answers to your questions about autonomous vehicle accidents. At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we stay at the forefront of technology to help our San Francisco-area clients remain safe, healthy, and financially stable after severe injuries in car crashes.
So far, the self-driving vehicles on our roads aren’t fully driverless but do allow a human driver to switch over to autopilot mode. As the car travels down the road handling most of the driving details, the person still supervises the process.
Or at least, they’re supposed to. Human drivers are obligated to stay alert and watch the behavior of their self-driving cars, but many fail to do so and cause distracted driving accidents.
In fact, some people don’t even understand exactly how their own cars work on autopilot. Most of these cars are considered partially autonomous, not fully autonomous, even if their owners don’t realize it. As Robert L. Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), explains, “If you own a car with partial automation, you do not own a self-driving car. Don't pretend that you do.”
Sumwalt and the NTSB have conducted several driverless car studies that have added to the agency's data about self-driving car accidents. Causes of these accidents include:
While some crashes involve technological glitches and road hazards, human error is a primary contributor to many severe crashes. This means at a crucial moment when a self-driving car needs a person’s help, the person might be too distracted to notice.
Pedestrian Injured in
Autonomous Vehicle Accident
After a crash, you’ll want to know who can be held liable for your damages, including your injuries, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and more. So let’s look at who is responsible for driverless car accidents in California.
Operating a self-driving car doesn’t release a car’s driver from responsibility in a crash. They are still expected to be in control of their vehicle under California’s rules of the road. As an injured victim, you can pursue a personal injury case against the driver of a self-driving car by establishing that they were negligent.
The two most common negligence claims in assigning self-driving car liability are
You may also be able to pursue a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer for design flaws or system malfunctions that contributed to your self-driving vehicle accident. In addition, it’s possible that a government entity could be held responsible for a missing safety barrier or another type of road safety failure that added to the severity of your crash.
Having an Attorney Will Get You More!
Like all states, California is scrambling to ensure its laws regarding self-driving cars will keep people safe. Self-driving cars are legal in California and are allowed on the road, but drivers may not operate them in a way that is illegal.
You must remain alert and in control of the vehicle, avoiding distracted driving and refraining from the use of electronic devices to write, send, view or read any communications that take your attention off the road. Drivers should supervise the behavior of the self-driving vehicle and take over during an emergency.
Don't drink and drive an autonomous car. It is still considered drunk driving to operate a self-driving car when you are over the legal limit of intoxication.
If you are injured in an accident with a self-driving car, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in San Francisco. People with these cars can be held liable for negligence.
After a driverless car accident, you can sue the companies that develop, manufacture, and use these vehicles. Here’s a list of major companies that are involved with self-driving vehicles:
If you've been in a serious car accident and have suffered:
INJURIES REQUIRING SURGERY
TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY
Then speaking with a San Francisco car accident lawyer at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers - or completing our FREE online case evaluation - is the first step on the road to recovery.
Pedestrians and bicyclists are constantly at risk on California roads. Pedestrian deaths are up by 35% in our state since 2008. Drivers often don’t notice these small-size road users or don’t care about them.
So are self-driving cars safer than human drivers? So far, the answer seems to be NO.
Driverless cars still make mistakes and still rely on human beings to stay alert. When the driver is distracted, they can’t always avert disaster - as we saw in the fatal San Jose Uber accident, where a pedestrian was killed.
As a cyclist or pedestrian, you are at risk of a driverless car:
Driverless cars pose dangers to other motorists around them because they don’t always operate in a safe and predictable way.
As a regular motorist on the road, you may face risks like:
Self-driving car crash deaths are on the rise as these vehicles become more common on our roads. Unfortunately, any motorist is at risk of injury and death, not just the self-driving car owners themselves.
Passengers in driverless cars are powerless to stop accidents. They rely on the vehicle, its technology, its safety features, and its human supervisor to handle any emergency that comes up.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) predicts that passenger dangers will only rise in the coming years. According to the NHTSA, we are currently in a “partially-automated safety feature” phase that will come to an end around 2025, when fully automated vehicles become commonplace on our roads.
In the future, all public transportation could be handled by driverless vehicles. Uber and Lyft passengers might be driven around by 100% non-human drivers. Our society may even face philosophical and legal debates over questions like, “Should we ban human-driven cars?” and “Should a driverless car kill its own driver to save a pedestrian?”
Some mainstream vehicles come equipped with limited self-driving features like the Autopilot driver-assist system with adaptive cruise on certain vehicles, automatic braking, and self-parking cars, which can potentially make parallel parking on a busy street a much easier task.
When accidents occur with these kinds of vehicles, it opens up all kinds of questions. Who is truly at fault? What if you assume your vehicle’s automatic braking system will work, but it doesn’t?
There are examples of cars with automatic braking systems stopping for no reason– which comes with its own dangers. Some of these incidents have also caused their own accidents and injuries. Even self-driving features on mainstream vehicles can lead to collisions, which puts both drivers in these vehicles and others at risk.
In today’s world, a driverless car is covered by its human driver’s car insurance. If you are injured, you can sue the car’s owner and make an insurance claim against them.
Of course, every situation is unique and sometimes there are unpredictable factors at play. Perhaps there were multiple cars involved in the crash. Maybe you’re dealing with a driverless car equipment malfunction.
You’ll need a qualified forward-thinking San Francisco personal injury attorney to review the facts of your case and advise you on how to move forward. Make sure you work with someone who thoroughly understands accidents with self-driving cars.
If at any time within the first 30 days of signing with Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers you are not 100% satisfied with the quality and care of service you receive from our attorneys, we will cancel your contract at no cost so that you can seek different representation. No questions asked.
Some people think that hiring an attorney for a driverless car accident is too costly and isn’t worth their time. Other people assume an attorney will just blow things out of proportion.
Not true! You have a right to sue for your injuries and other damages after a car accident in California. We’re here to protect your rights and give you a voice in the legal system, especially in the evolving realm of driverless car law.
Investigate what happened
Interview people and gather evidence
Get your medical bills paid
Demand compensation for the cost of car repairs or replacement
Seek reimbursement for lost wages
Ease your pain and suffering
Hold the right person responsible for your situation
Negotiate out of court for a settlement
Go to court, if necessary
Reduce your stress after the trauma of an accident
In the days after a self-driving car accident, the insurance adjusters will start contacting you. They’ll ask for information and documentation about your accident and may begin pressuring you to take a quick offer from them.
Don’t be fooled. A fast lowball offer is a bad deal. Your medical bills will continue to pile up, even as you miss days of work and face a long recovery period from your accident. Don’t agree to anything until you talk to a San Francisco car accident attorney who has expertise with driverless car accidents.
An insurance adjuster is never on your side because their number one priority is saving the insurance carrier money. Their own paycheck is based on their success in discounting your claim!
An insurance adjuster might downplay your accident or imply that the whole thing was your own fault. They might suggest that their proposal is fair to you, even when it isn’t. No matter how nice they are, and no matter how hard they work to earn your trust, an insurance adjuster isn’t your friend.
Your San Francisco car accident attorney, on the other hand, works for you and is definitely on your side. They are dedicated to following the law and protecting your best interests. Unlike an insurance adjuster who tries to get you to settle for less, your attorney is focused on getting you more money, more resources to repair your car, and more compensation that helps you move forward successfully from your accident.
If you negotiate directly with the other driver's insurance company to avoid paying an attorney's fees, get ready to get lowballed! They’ll see you don’t have a lawyer and try to push you around.
The insurance company might offer to pay for your past medical bills, but what about your future bills? Your lost job earnings? Your pain and suffering? Each of these elements is guaranteed to you by California law. Don’t let any of them be glossed over and undervalued simply because you don’t have a lawyer to help protect your rights.
Self-driving car accidents are a new and evolving part of the law. You need a lawyer with a long track record of success with San Francisco car accidents who can increase your settlement by far more than their legal fees. We’ll help you put money in your pocket with a lot less stress.
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It’s important to find the right fit between an attorney and client. Still not sure about hiring a San Francisco car accident lawyer? Find out more here about whether Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers is the right firm to handle your case.
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